Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do You See Any Poor People?

Deuteronomy 15:4
However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.

I ain't never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn't have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared.... Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain't no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out, they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, cos we're the people. -- Ma Joad, Grapes of Wrath

Jesus said, “The Poor we will have amongst us always,” when he was criticized by Judas for letting the woman anoint him with a whole bottle of expensive perfume. It wasn’t the poor Judas was concerned about but himself. Judas use to feign concern for the poor and steal the money for himself. Jesus wasn’t being disconcerting toward the poor but stating the obvious that because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people we will always have conditions that produce poor people. America’s love affair with Capitalism creates a climate for poor people to exist. It is our responsibility as Christ followers to help the poor. At the moment that Jesus said, “the poor you will have always,” he was being prepared for his crucifixion by the woman who anointed him with a bottle of perfume that cost a year’s wages. After his resurrection Jesus expected his followers to take care of the ‘least of these’….the poor.

Ideally, there are not supposed to be any poor people around us. God promised the Israelites that he would take them to land where they would be “richly blessed.” Is this a preview of post modern suburbia, a place with no poor among you because you are richly blessed? No! There would be no poor people amongst them because the people who were “richly blessed” were supposed to take care of the poor! Whenever we see poverty amongst us we are suppose to do something about it.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 (New International Version, ©2011)

7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.

Matthew Barnett of the Dream Center in Los Angeles has one of the best models of ministry in terms of helping the poor. He has a church that has movie stars as members and homeless people as members. He bought a Hospital and turned it into a 24 hour church where the homeless and poor can come for shelter, food, and medicine. What if every church in America had a dream center?

When we help the poor God helps us!

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (New International Version, ©2011)

10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Memphis, TN is being put to the test to see how we do with our poor. Shelby County (the “richly blessed”) is being put to the test to see how it will treat the majority poor students of Memphis City Schools as the referendum has been passed to merge the two systems. This is not about black or white this is about the “haves and the have nots.” Jesus is going to see if his followers will take care of the poor amongst them or continue to have a Judas spirit and steal the money set aside for the poor. He will also be watching us today to see what we will do when we see poverty. The poor they keep on going because God is on their side and he’s watching the “richly blessed” to see if we will help them.

Dear God,

Help me to create a dream center through our church where the poor can come for help. Help me to create a culture of giving in my church so that there are no neglected poor amongst us. Help me to look for opportunities to help the poor I see everyday even if it’s just buying them a meal or speaking a kind word. Don’t let me be “tight fisted” when it is in my power to help. Use me to eradicate poverty one person at a time.

In Jesus Name,

No comments:

Post a Comment